Have you been feeling distant from the Lord? Can you think of a reason? Remember it is always possible that God is giving you this feeling for a purpose.
In my divine love story I have felt a whole range of emotions: bliss, peace, anger, desire, confusion, hope and the list goes on and on and on. One feeling I have never experienced is that of being comfortable, at least not for very long. I do not think there is any place in the spiritual life for "comfort". Of course there have been times when I have experienced the comfort of the Lord but I have never really been comfortable with the status of our relationship. If I get near the feeling of being comfortable it is almost a sure sign that I am on the wrong path and that once again I have let Pride grow deep within my heart.
Why is this? Ive pondered this during many a prayer time and my best guess is a very simple principle: God wants to pursue us... and ...God wants to be pursued. When I start to get comfortable with my relationship I stay there. Its kind of like a truce. The Lord doesn't want a truce. He wants a total and complete surrender.
It seems every time I feel close to Him my heart gets comfortable and because the Lord wants to pursue and be pursued He puts that sweet wound deep within my heart again and I feel that distance. Once I feel that distance I can do nothing but cry out for Him to come get me and run freely toward Him.
There are many reasons we sometimes feel distant from the Lord but that distance should always remind us of the need to pursue and to be pursued. Run to Him. He is running to you!
Oh my soul, take nothing as your own. For you there is God and God alone...
Possibly the most important aspect of trying to grow in prayer is what St. Teresa of Avila called "an earnest and most determined resolve not to halt." I believe that God desires each and everyone of us to have a profoundly deep prayer life. This means He will give us what we need to advance farther and farther into this beautiful mystery. What is our part? To resolve to pray each and every single day. In order to let God lead us into His heart we need only to put some time aside each day that is strictly His. You must adopt a strict diligence of prayer that cannot be sidetracked by anything. You might try to make a list of the things that have interrupted your prayer life in the past. Make a plan, make a schedule and pray every single day.
The devil will do everything he can to interrupt this resolve and it is important that we recognize that and no matter what kind of sin we fall into we should still pray each and every day. It is not hypocrisy to pray in a state of sin. Instead it is the only sane thing to do. When you have offended the Lord it is then that you should run to Him all the more. The devil will also try to trick us into thinking the Lord is not listening to our prayer. In this moment we must remember that the primary objective of prayer is for us to listen and not just speak. We must also remember that God has promised He will always listen and answer our prayers although not always in the way we expect in the time we expect.
The bottom line is that we could all be saints if only we prayed. Do not let anything get in the way of this and God will draw you in. He will speak to your heart. You will become whole in Him. He will set you afire.
May the Lord draw you into His heart through our perseverance in prayer.
The interior life is both simple and very complicated with much need for direction. The following are 10 books that are amazing guides for growing in
The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerrey: The Spiritual Life is an exhaustive treatise on spiritual and ascetical theology. This book has taken the place of a spiritual director in my life many many times when I had no one to take that role. It was very prevalent in seminary curriculums until about 70 years ago.
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis DeSales: This book is meant to be exhaustive but the great aspect of this work is the order to the exercises he gives. Most people will read and practice the levels of the book in a year but that would not be the original intention of the author. It is a program of life particularly directed at lay people.
Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli: This book also offer a pretty complete program for the spiritual life but it definitely is not for the beginner. This is a great bookto pick up if have gotten slack or slothful in your prayer life. It also is ideal for those who are in a deliberate fight with sin. (which should be all of us. If you have read it already and would like a fresh perspective try the Orthodox edition called “Unseen Warfare”. It is almost the same with some great additions.
One Heart Full of Love by Mother Teresa: As I stated before the interior life is both simple and very complicated. This book will remind us that when it comes down to it the interior life is just about prayer, silence, humility, simplicity and
The Way of the Disciple by Erasmo Leiva Merikakis: This is my very favorite spiritual book. Merikakis has a keen understanding of the essence of discipleship. Give it a chance and you will not regret it.
Omnibus of Sources by many authors: This is a collection of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi. If the interior life is just about loving Jesus then Francis is the person to learn from. After Mary I believe Francis was the greatest lover ofJesus to walk the earth. After reading the Omnibus you will think the same thing.
The Philokalia by many authors: The Philokalia is the collection of the Desert and Eastern Church Fathers writings on prayer and asceticism. It is phenomenal. (If you like it but need something more simple pick up The Way of a pilgrim)
Anything by St. John of the Cross: I recommend the collected works of John of the Cross but anything by him is amazing. He is the product of a long an arduous interior life. Reading John of the Cross can be tricky but well worth
Anything by Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle is mystical and can be confusing but it also is very well organized and laid out. It is the kind of book that you read where there is a lot you don’t really understand and then years later it makes sense to you. (At least that’s what I experienced.)
Every book by Fr. Jacques Philippe: They can be read in under an hour but they are profound and highly practical. He is a living spiritual master and he is still writing so we have much more to watch out for from him.
Books and study do not make you holy. That being said you will need guidance along the way of your interior journey. These books all played a substantial role in my interior life and they may help you as well.
There is still time to order the Lion Roars prayer book for Christmas. The Lion Roars is a collection of beautiful Catholic prayers for all different occasions. Christmas special: Order 2 copies and we will include 1 extra copy. Thats 3 for the price of 2!!! For more informaton or to order click below.
This may seem obvious. Vocal is just prayer that you say right? Well the vast majority of souls will stay at the level of vocal prayer for their entire life. Since prayer is just a communicative relationship with God then to stay at one level of prayer means we are not progressing deeper in our relationship. This could be due to the fact that we aren't putting enough thought into our vocal prayer. If we desire to move beyond the "Vocal prayer" stage of our relationship and grow in holiness then we need to follow these rules:
1. It is prayer not recitation. This means we are lifting our minds to God. Before saying your prayer recollect yourself and place your heart in the presence of God.
2. Pay attention to the words you say. Ok this is obvious but how many times have you read an entire page of a book and realized you didnt pay any attention to what you were reading.
3. Go slow! Pause often. A good way to practice this is to pray the Our Father and try to take 2 to 3 minutes for one prayer. This will be awful at first but it will help us to be deliberate in our vocal prayer.
4. Unite vocal prayer to mental prayer. This is from St. Teresa of Avila. She explains it thus: "If while I am speaking with God, I have a clear realization that I am doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am uniting mental prayer to vocal prayer."
5. Be docile to the Holy Spirit and not enslaved to the written words. This is obviously not the case when it comes to liturgical prayer but when you are just having a personal prayer time let the Holy Spirit guide you. If you feel an insight or you feel the Lord leading you into some strain of meditation dont worry about getting the prayer finished just go with the meditation. When you get distracted or it ends just go back to your prayer.
Engage the prayer. Put your whole heart into it. Let each prayer be a love story to Jesus. Let each request be from a begger to a king. Let each word of praise be from a small insignificant being to the greatness of the creator. If you do this with your whole heart then soon your Lover will lead you into a form of communication too deep for words...
This is Mother Franziska Lechner’s Program of Life. I don’t know much about her but if she followed this I am sure she will be a Saint one day. It is simple to the point and relevant. Its awesome.
God calls every christian to a silent prayer life but that doesn’t mean we leave all wrote prayer behind. Sometimes these prayers sum up the feeling of our heart perfectly. This prayer is from the Raccolta and it is absolutely a favorite.
Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist, I adore Thee.
Sweet Companion of our exile, I adore Thee.
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee.
Heart solitary, Heart humiliated, I adore Thee.
Heart abandoned, Heart forgotten, I adore Thee.
Heart despised, Heart outraged, I adore Thee.
Heart ignored by men, I adore Thee.
Heart, Lover of our hearts, I adore Thee.
Heart pleading for love, I adore Thee.
Heart patient in waiting for us, I adore Thee.
Heart eager to hear our prayers, I adore Thee.
Heart desiring that we should pray to Thee, I adore Thee.
Heart, Source of fresh graces, I adore Thee.
Heart silent, desiring to speak to souls, I adore Thee.
Heart, sweet Refuge of the hidden life, I adore Thee.
Heart, Teacher of the secrets of union with God, I adore Thee.
Heart of Him Who sleeps, yet ever watches, I adore Thee.
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Jesus Victim, I wish to comfort Thee; I unite myself to Thee; I offer myself in union with Thee. I count myself as nothing before Thee;I desire to forget myself in order to think of Thee, to be forgotten and despised for love of Thee, not to be understood, not to be loved, except by Thee. I will hold my peace that I may listen to Thee; I will forsake myself that I may lose myself in Thee.
Grant that I may quench Thy thirst for my salvation, Thy burning thirst for my sanctification, and that, being purified, I may bestow on Thee a pure and true love. I would no longer weary Thine expectations; take me, I give myself to Thee. I entrust to Thee all my actions—my mind that Thou mayest enlighten it, my heart that Thou mayest direct it, my will that Thou mayest establish it, my misery that Thou mayest relieve it, my soul and my body that Thou mayest feed them.
Eucharistic Heart of my Jesus, Whose Blood is the life of my soul, may it be no longer I who live, but Thou alone Who livest in me. Amen.
Last night the parish I work for was blessed to host Ivan Dragicevic who for 27 years has been receiving messages from the Blessed Mother. The apparition happened around 6:40pm and after that he spoke for over an hour about Our Lady of Medjugorje and Her important mission here on earth.
I was blown away by the simplicity of the messages. He highlighted, conversion, prayer of the heart, reading scripture, the eucharist, confession, adoration, rosary, fasting, prayer in the family and a few other things I can’t remember but they too were just simple ways to live the radical catholic life and grow closer to the heart of Jesus. These messages are nothing but the heart of the Gospel presented in a simple and compelling way.
One particular part of Her message is that she wishes for Catholics to pray for 3 hours a day. The 3 hours would include all the prayer and meditation you do throughout the day but it is certainly a radical challenge.
I believe that if even a few Catholics from every parish would live the Medjugorje message the world would change greatly. She has come as the Queen of Peace and Her desire is to bring peace to the hearts of all. I was convicted to enter more deeply into the spiritual life and after the apparition I felt the strength try and live Her message. I pray that Her mission and message will continue to spread throughout the earth.
Our Lady of Medjugorje…Pray for us.
Queen of Peace…Bring peace to our hearts.
Once you have decided you are in need of a Spiritual Director your work has just begun. If you are trying to live a Radical Christian life then you are going to want someone who is going to affirm you in that. This can be harder than it sounds. There is an abundance of “Spiritual Directors” who are all too ready to affirm you just the way you are, to counsel you the way a counselor would or even just hear your confession and help you in the battle with sin. A Spiritual Director who will help you in the battle with sin, help you progress in your prayer life, help you distinguish between psychological issues and problems of will and be an example of a tenacious and radical catholic on the road to sainthood is one in a million. There are lay spiritual directors and religious spiritual directors. I recommend finding someone who is a Priest or Religious. I also recommend finding someone who is older. There are many young spiritual directors who are amazing but there is a real comfort when you get the feeling that your spiritual director has helped possibly thousands of people before you on the same journey.
Here are some questions I would ponder before choosing a spiritual director:
Dear Jesus, my desire is to grow closer to you. Each and everyday I hope to journey away from my sin and in to your arms. I do not know what is around the next corner but I will remain faithful to the journey. Send me your messengers, Lord, to light the way and guide in the progress. Above all, Lord, teach me to be submissive to you. Amen
Do you need a Spiritual Director? I do not currently have a spiritual director. In fact there have been very few times in my life when I have had one. I have never really felt the need. Now I am not saying that I do not need spiritual advice but more that I don’t feel like I have been advanced enough for a spiritual director. I guess I feel like until I am doing the things that I know I need to do then why do I need someone to direct me? A spiritual director should help you discern a vision for your spiritual life. He should help point you in the right direction and help you discern what God is saying to you. Here some questions to help you know if you are ready to find a spiritual director. (This is not to say a competent spiritual director can’t help you at any stage of the journey but it may help you decide more clearly)
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.